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Barak (Hebrew בָרָ֣ק, a flash of lightning) (fl. 2744 AM/1260 BC)[1] was a reluctant commander at a celebrated battle in the history of Israel.

The Battle of Kishon

Barak was a Naphtalite, and grew to manhood during the oppression of King Jabin of Hazor. Why Judge Deborah selected him to recruit and command an army to fight a battle of liberation, the Bible does not say. But some Rabbinical commentators identify Barak with "Lappidoth" (Hebrew לַפִּידֹ֑ות, lamps) and suggest that he was married to Deborah and furnished lamps for the Tabernacle. This is very unlikely because Deborah was not Naphtalite, but Ephraimite.

One day Deborah summoned him to her tribunal and there gave him an order from God: to recruit a force of ten thousand men, part Naphtalite and part Zebulunite, and take station on Mount Tabor. Sisera would attempt to draw Barak out to the Kishon River, and there Barak could defeat him.

Barak was capable but timid, and he told Deborah that he would go to Mount Tabor only if Deborah accompanied him. Deborah consented to this, but advised Barak that the victory would not redound entirely to his credit, because Sisera would fall to a woman. Barak learned only later which woman Deborah was talking about.

Barak traveled to Naphtali and then to Zebulun and succeeded in recruiting ten thousand men. He led these men to Mount Tabor, as Deborah had instructed him. Then, at the opportune moment, Sisera heard tell of Barak's army and immediately moved to the Kishon River with his 900 chariots and his infantry.

This was a fatal mistake, because the Kishon River was overflowing after a torrential rain, (Judges 5:21 ) and its banks had turned to mud.[2][3] (Judges 5:4 ). Deborah apparently led a small diversionary force of her own, composed of Benjamites and Ephraimites, to attack Sisera from the rear. When Sisera turned to meet this minor threat, Barak's division rushed down Mount Tabor and attacked him in full force. Sisera's chariots and infantry were wiped out to the last man.[4] (Judges 4:15-16 )

Sisera deserted his troops and tried to escape. Barak's forces pursued Sisera's army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and then Barak chased Sisera himself. He found his dead body in the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. She had lured Sisera into her tent and then killed him by driving a tent peg through his head.[3] (Judges 4:22 )

See also


  1. Jones, Floyd M., The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 278
  2. Dolphin L, "Deborah the Prophetess," September 12, 2003. Accessed December 16, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Telushkin J, "Deborah," from Jewish Literacy, New York: William Morrow and Co., 1991. Reprinted by the Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed December 16, 2008.
  4. Easton MG, "Deborah," WebBible Encyclopedia, ed. Paul S. Taylor, n.d. Accessed December 16, 2008